Review – Andrew Bonazelli: DTV (Book)

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  • Bio: n/a
  • Label: Handshake Inc.
  • Release Date: March 30th, 2012
  • Genre: Action
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Andrew Bonazelli is a managing editor over at the Decibel magazine. Over the years, he’s taken his work outside that medium and put them to literary form. With a couple other books under his belt, such as The Regular and Deathless Obscene, he returns to book shelves once more with his latest offering, DTV. The book itself acts more like a modern “Where Are They Now?” telling of eighties and nineties washed up Action movie stars in a manner that blurs the lines between reality and film. But, is this a good enough concept to fill up a ninety plus page novel in the form of an entertaining homage, or will it simply become too tongue in cheek while poking the belly of the film style largely missing from today’s movie going experience?

DTV revolves around two washed up actors named Burke Knox and Pierre-Georges Pillippe, largely following where the two are today. Burke, also known as The Brick or The Brick Layer due to his work in the fictional two films of the same name by Derek Lee Desmond in 1992, has essentially become a fan favorite in the direct-to-video market (hence the name) similar to Steven Seagal, and Pierre-Georges seems to have flourished, using the money well and having a strong family bond, many of which refer to him simply as Pi-Gi. He also seems to be based around Jean-Claude van Damme, but reference in the book to Arnold Schwarzenegger. His speech, however comes off more like a poor Jackie Chan with his own mouthed Bruce Lee style sound effects. In fact, the character is clearly French by name and story telling, but most of the time it’s easy to picture him as a man of oriental descent like last two actors listed. While much of the book starts off showing what the men have basically become, such as Burke threatening a twenty-four year old reporter of the Action Con, and Pi-Gi getting his nephew a Wii for his birthday while previously having pulled a hamstring and groin muscle in the presence of a prostitute. Both actors are hinted at around age fifty, and having been arch rivals in the eighties through the nineties. A lot of this is established through excerpts from random websites and blogs, as well as what seems to be IMDB.com data entries and film run downs.

The shifting of past film descriptions and general articles does occur throughout the book, often making it hard to follow the story and what time period it is taking place. Much of this does remedy itself shortly after the start of act two, which is when the continuity of their modern problems, though often set in 1992, begin to play out with Burke getting arrested, then making contact with a man named Stanly for bail money. He also offers him a part in a reality show he was to be the star of, but eventually is downgraded to a multi-star show called Celebrity Beatdown. Pi-Gi seems to already be involved in a new production, having a film crew following him around as he walks around a beach while enjoying a Corona. It seems he also worked on a book Hard Bard: The Everyday Poetry of P.G. Philippe, which he deletes and replaces with Urban Pacifier: PGP, the original title of Burke’s show without Pi-Gi’s initials, but clearly not something he wants to be part of. All of this is again an excerpt, though it’s played off as another entry in the daily life of Burke and Pi-Gi.

Andrew BonazelliUp to this point, the development is handled in a way that you do start to feel bad for the two aging actors in a typical on top of the world but fell hard sense. From here, the story seems more consistent and ends up being easier to follow, allowing the excerpts to be another point of view towards the events unfolding within the story itself. Some of them are quite amusing, such as the drug deal gone wrong. Instead of Burke and Pi-Gi going to a dealer, they end up at a pimp with a minor seducing Pi-Gi and attempting to sodomize him with a studded strap-on. This leads to a quick fight sequence as the two try to escape. During this, a brief synopsis from an exerpt titled “Predatory: Gay as Fuck” is utilized, going into a discussion between the two about the film and what went wrong, including Burke pointing out how it made Pi-Gi look like a child molester. There’s also the budding friendship between these washed up individuals that find Burke joining Pi-Gi to a film festival being held in his honor in what essentially was nothing more than a man’s garage, as well as a bar room brawl to find the three punks who put a soccer goalie into a coma. All of this builds to a bit of an over-the-top Action sequence that introduces various individuals throughout their lives, who are mentioned here and there in the novel, as well as a sinister revenge plot that throws their lives into that of a film which ends on a punch out conclusion that leaves some questions open, as well as greatly lacks closure for the two. But, given the period and style of Action the story plays to, it ends up being right at home, as well as expected.

In the end, DTV was actually pretty hard to follow at first, able to give you a headache trying to figure out what is present tense, what happened in the past, and if something is part a documentary, or is meant to be happening then in real life. But, by the half way point, it won’t matter if you try to resolve the story as an auto-biographical picture being translated into a novel format, or if many of the events are happening in real-time but with narration for the sake of the book. It all leads to an inevitably unbelievable conclusion that feels right for the characters, as well as Action films in general. Andrew Bonazelli does present a nice homage to the heyday of Action movies and their stars, and for that this book should at least be respected. There’s plenty of dialogue to keep the story going, and not so much pointless detail to worry about. The the inclusion of traditional movie script formatting and text does help you better understand some scenes and the motivation, as well as direction, such as towards the end during the berating confessionals in the time prior to the filming of The Turnabout. Either way, if you enjoy this style of media, there’s a decent amount of twists and turns that will lead you to wanting a happy ending for Pi-Gi and Burke, which is about all you can really ask for in a book like this. While it may not be one of the best out there, but at ninety-four pages with decent writing, an enjoyable story line, and some rather comical moments, this throwback is a quick read still worth checking out if you get the chance.

Digital review copy of this release provided by Handshake Inc..